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Category — Entertaining

Peggy’s Greek Quesadillas

This fun spin on quesadillas is what Peggy chose to make for the Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck. They were a big hit!

Greek Quesadillas with Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 English cucumber, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Quesadillas

  • 8 flour tortillas (8-inch)
  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, plus more for garnish

Tzatziki Sauce: Combine Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill, lemon juice, lemon zest and mint in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

Quesadillas: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Top a tortilla with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, olives and cheeses, and then top with another tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas to make 4 quesadillas.

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January 11, 2017   1 Comment

Michelle’s Antipasto Skewers

The first appetizer from the 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck was made by my cousin (and friend!) Michelle. They are super easy and colorful little skewers.

As you know, most of the recipes from the party are ones I found online and sent out to the guest to choose from. If you would like to see the original post for this recipe, with many more photos, go HERE.

Antipasto Skewers

  • Bamboo skewers
  • 24 mini fresh mozzarella balls
  • 24 small basil leaves
  • 12 slices of salami, cut in half
  • 1/2 pound fresh tortellini, cooked
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts
  • 24 olives

Using bamboo skewers layer your ingredients in the order shown, starting with the mozzarella balls and ending with the olives.

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January 9, 2017   2 Comments

Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck 2016

On Christmas Eve eve, December 23rd, I hosted my annual Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck party. It’s a great format for a fun stress-free holiday party. To find out exactly how it works, go to This Post from the 2015 party and get all the “How To” details.

In the days to follow, I’ll post the recipe for each. As an added bonus – at the end of today’s post you’ll find my signature cocktail for the evening.

Here is a rundown of the dishes made and brought by the guests … with a few contributed by me.

Antipasto Skewers

Greek Quesadillas

Bacon Wrapped Maple Brussels Sprouts

Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Rounds

Spicy Chicken Cheeseballs

Caesar Dip and Crudités

Bacon Candy

Shrimp Scampi Dip

Holiday Brie en Croute

I’m calling my signature cocktail “winter berry” but in all honesty, these are summer berries. Oh well, summer or winter, it’s a keeper!

Winter Berry-Rosemary Cocktail

  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup fresh small rosemary sprigs
  • 6 limes, cut into wedges
  • 3 cups simple syrup *
  • 4 cup vodka
  • Juice of 8 more large limes
  • Ginger ale, chilled
  • Garnish
  • 16 small fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 8 lime slices, cut in half
  • Reserved berries

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January 6, 2017   2 Comments

Holiday Moscow Mules

hostesses-with-moscow-mules

This is the cocktail that, Cay, the hostess of the gourmet group that I am now a member of, served for the December gathering at her gorgeous home. Co-host, Susie is on the left and Cay is on the right, as we toast ourselves for a job well-done. To be honest, this selfie was taken before the party began, but once we had cocktails in-hand, we knew it would be a success!

mule-setup

Pomegranate Moscow Mules

Candied Mint Leaves

  • Water
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Mule

  • Crushed ice
  • 1 ½ cups ginger beer
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Garnish

  • Fresh pomegranate arils
  • Candied Mint Leaves

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December 15, 2016   2 Comments

Thanksgiving 2016 tablescape

happy-thanksgiving

I loved this Thanksgiving. It was such a joy to cook a big meal for more than just our immediate family.

jeff-zoey-marissa-zak

For years it’s just been the five of us; Dave, Marissa, Connor, my dad and me. Every few years, Dave’s mom would join us, which made the six of us. Still, that’s not many people to eat a meal that you go to so much work for.

fall-harvest

Happily, in 2014, Jeff and his parents, Dean and Amy, joined us for the first time. Since my mother-in-law was here too, that took us all the way up to nine people, the most ever at our table! I was over the moon!

friends-and-family

Fast forward to this year. Steve and Tram are in a rental while their new home is being built. Steve’s parents are in town.

linda-and-tram

Add in the twins, Zak and Zoey and there are fourteen of us! I am in heaven.

jeff-and-steve

For the first time in… ever… I am actually cooking for a respectable number of people, thus making the huge Thanksgiving feast worthy of being called a feast. I am in my element!

menu-chalkboard

I mean, it’s the same number of dishes I make every year, but this year it made sense to go to all that work. Love it!!

zak-and-marissa

And, of course, having 2 ½-year-old twins join in the day, makes everything more fun! Zak and Zoey are so adorable, well-behaved and, well, I’m just in love with them and so are Connor, Marissa and Jeff.

z-and-m

I posted a few photos on Instagram and my friend, Sheila, called them Bigs and Littles.

connor-and-zoey

So sweet!

zak-and-con

OK, how about some tablescaping?

visaversa

Since we were at fourteen and my dining room table seats only eight comfortably, we had to eat outside. Not a problem in Arizona, even in November. But just in case it did rain, I flip-flopped the furniture arrangements. Moving all the seating that is under the long covered “fireplace patio” to the open patio area and moving the oblong table that is usually out in the open, to the covered area.

begin

I also brought over the rustic 60-inch wood round table from the other covered patio to create one long table. The photo above is of the two tables under the covered patio and the beginnings of my table arranging. This all took place early on Wednesday morning.

2-tables

At the same time that I was setting this up, I was also cooking; smoking a turkey breast, making bread dough, cranberry-pomegranate sauce, butternut soup and prepping the sweet potatoes and stuffing. So by the time this photo was taken of the finished tables, it was late afternoon.

oblong-table

The oblong table was covered with a tablecloth, since it’s a patio table and not attractive enough for placemats. Not to mention that I don’t have 12 matching Thanksgiving placemats and napkins anyhow.

one-long-table

The two tables were joined by two large green Jarrahdale pumpkins along with a large white pumpkin. Jarrahdale are my favorite pumpkins. I drove all the way Chino Valley to buy some a few years ago when I couldn’t find them locally. Now that they are available a few places, I’ll drive to half a dozen different stores to find them.

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December 2, 2016   5 Comments

gingerbread bundt cake

gingerbread

It’s no secret that I don’t like to bake. I considered buying dessert for the German-Swiss Dinner Party. At the last-minute, I caved. I was inspired to make a gingerbread cake by the beautiful gingerbread-like towns in Switzerland and Germany.

gingerbread-buildings

As usual, my baking experience wasn’t great. I coated the bundt pan heavily with softened butter and then coated it with flour.

butter-and-flour

Unfortunately some of the cake STILL stuck to the darn pan. This, right here, is why I hate to bake! I really should rename this website that. Hate2Bake.com. I just looked it up and the name isn’t taken. Hmmm.

stuck-cake

It’s OK, it all worked out because I carefully lifted out the stuck pieces and gingerly put them in place. See what I did right there, gingerly!

fixed

Along with the gingerbread, I served Swiss Hot Chocolate with Asbach brandy from Switzerland.

hot-cocoa

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October 20, 2016   4 Comments

a little more cheese

This is the second side-dish that accompanied the Pork Schnitzel and the last of the savory dishes from the German-Swiss Dinner Party.

entry

Did you think you’d seen the last of the recipes containing cheese from the extravagantly cheesy dinner? I’m afraid not. I do promise this is the last of it though, there was no cheese in the dessert, which I will post the recipe for tomorrow.

swiss-flags

Then on Friday, get ready for another contest. This time, instead of winning cookbooks, if you live in The Valley of the Sun, you could win a free spot in a cooking class. Stay tuned!

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October 19, 2016   1 Comment

side salad and a Thanksgiving table

german-cucumber-salad

Today’s recipe was one of the two side dishes that accompanied the Pork Schnitzel at my German-Swiss Dinner Party.

It’s an extremely easy and quick recipe and a great side dish for just about any main course.

centerpiece

The other thing I’m sharing today is a few photos of a quick taping I did yesterday for Channel 12. I received a text message from one of Tram’s colleagues, Nico, at 7:45 in the morning asking if he could come by in a couple of hours to film a “how to set the table” segment. I told him sure, that I could be ready by 10:00.

tv-table

I knew it wasn’t going to air until November, so I started pulling out the Thanksgiving stuff. Luckily, I’d just hauled the Halloween decor out of the shed over the weekend, so I knew exactly where the Thanksgiving tubs were located.

table-for-4

Next, I went out into the Miscellany Shed and pulled out the wood slabs to use as chargers and a handful of antlers.

Finally, I dug through the various china cabinets to round up the dishes, crystal and flatware.

wine-glass

One unfortunate thing happened though, I broke one of the wine glasses from my wedding crystal. I’d love to blame it on the cats (they were annoyingly underfoot) or on my rushing, but it was just general clumsiness. Even after sweeping twice, I kept finding glass, long after the shoot was over.

broken-glass

I didn’t get my Halloween decorations put out, which was my plan for the day before the text arrived, but I was ready when Nico arrived… and that’s saying something!

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October 18, 2016   1 Comment

Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein

munich

Until recently, in Germany and Austria, one was not allowed to call a dish Wiener Schnitzel unless it was made with veal. If the dish was made with pork instead, it needed to be called Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein.

In 2009, they lighted up and a “Wiener Schnitzel” no longer refers exclusively to a veal dish, but instead to a breaded steak in general.

dinner-menu

Since I didn’t want to offend or cause confusion, I just called it Pork Schnitzel on the menu skillet at my German-Swiss Dinner Party.

munich-menus

The recipe is an adaptation of a Tyler Florence recipe. From it, I learned a new technique for breading meat. Tyler suggests letting the breaded meat rest in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 10 minutes to allow the coating to dry out and adhere. It worked great! I’ll be doing that on all my breaded recipes from here on out.

Since I was cooking for 20, it was especially important to make this ahead. I cooked all the schnitzel, refrigerated and then reheated and finished cooking it in the oven. If you are serving immediately, reduce the oven time to about 12 to 15 minutes.

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October 14, 2016   1 Comment

German-Swiss Party Soup

apple-beer-cheese-soup

The first course for the dinner party was this cheesy soup. I told you yesterday that this party was all about the cheese and I wasn’t kidding!

german-beer

Then there was the beer. Since I was serving 20 people, I tripled the recipe. And since I’d bought a nice variety of German beer for the party, I used a variety for the soup too. Honestly, any beer will do. No need to go out and buy anything special, whatever you have on hand, German or not, will work perfectly.

my-peeps

A few photos of my sweet guests!

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October 13, 2016   2 Comments